Student Leader’s Guide to May

The semester is almost over. Which means student leaders start to feel like they are drowning in finals prep, emails, assignments, and they fear they are not living up to their term’s expectations. It is within reason to say this time of year is just one of those “gotcha” seasons for student leaders in fraternity/sorority life. Philanthropies crammed in every weekend, every formal seems to happen at once, and finals don’t look that far ahead. You’ve probably hit a few bumps on the way to this point, but it all seems like nothing compared to the mountain you’re now facing. While this is an enormous amount to process, and you might come out with a few bruises, believe me, you’re in the right place. Here’s how you finish strong:

Give Yourself A Round of Applause

Seriously, you deserve it. Whether your term started in September or January, you have been on the non-stop work train. Look at the programs you oversaw, look at the meetings you went to, think about the GroupMe messages you’ve opened, go through your planner/calendar and look at all the deadlines that have passed. That is extraordinarily inspiring. Do you know how many more hours of sleep you could trade in for that allocated time? Do you realize how many more hours you could have been studying for that Biochemistry lecture, instead? The answer is “no, you don’t” because you are a leader who thinks of greater causes and the greater good. Your work ethic is uncanny, your dedication to your community is unmatched, and your hard work is not going unnoticed (there is always that one advisor or friend who notices your work, and gives the old “I don’t know how you do it,” but you shrug it off because it is like clock-work to you). Forget about your inbox and think about how professional your resume and CV will look after this semester’s networking and program running. Think about the priceless skills you are acquiring in communication, goal setting, and planning. Give yourself a round of applause, because you deserve it.

Know Who You’re Leading

You are a student leader, and your audience is made of students. Too many times, we forget that we are leading students. Other students who have deadlines, exams, projects, and finals are also going through a similar stretch. Why are you acting like you can move around your schedule, but your fellow colleagues cannot? We are all students, after all, and it is not unreasonable to think that there is some fluidity in the bulk of student’s schedules. You change a normal meeting time or date? Ok. You cancel that informational round-table for external philanthropy chairs? Cool. No one is going to look down on you or remove you from your position. If anything, they will offer you help so you can achieve peak performance. It’s odd that student leaders must be told this, but: you are a student leader. The emphasis being on you are student first and a leader second. Meaning that there is an automatic, yet overlooked, sense of general understanding for your position. You are a uniquely relatable leader and should hold yourself as such throughout the rest of your term.

Crunch Time

You’ve seen how far you have come, how much you have accomplished, and have realized how significant you are. Now it’s time to get to business. Prioritize your deadlines and important dates. Do you work best in the morning, afternoon, evening, or night? Can you move your meeting with your advisor around, so you can study for your exam then? Also, delegate! Believe it or not, there are people who want to get involved and take on some of the load themselves. Chances are, you know someone like this but haven’t been contacting them directly. Reach out to them! The personal touch will go a long way when they carry out the task for you. As mentioned before, you are not alone in this.

Write it Down

As a student leader, you will not be in your role for much longer. Whether you are finishing up your term or approaching the halfway point, take a moment to look at what you have accomplished. Note down what went right, what went wrong, how to improve the parts that went wrong, and how to reproduce the parts that went right. It is your responsibility to ensure the next officer who holds your title does the best job they can, so the organization can progress. The last thing you need is for the next officer in your position to have the same struggles as you are having, and in result, “reinvent the wheel.” For such an optimal transition and progression, it is imperative that you write down all this information while it is still clear and fresh in your mind.

Ezra Katz is a junior chemistry major at Kent State University where he serves as President of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He has also served as the Director of Risk Management and Reduction for the Kent State Inter-Fraternity Council.


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